Improving Endurance in the Second Half of the Ride

Two things -

  1. Any advice for building better endurance in the second half of the ride?
  2. Noticed that when I’m pushing hard I really feel it in my calf muscles. Do I need to look at my fit or technique? (Note: I have very flat feet and wear a US size 13). The clips on my shoes are behind the balls of my feet so I don’t think they are too far forward.
  • Overall I had a great ride today. The first half I felt like I could keep up with a group on the hills. I had a silly smile plastered on my face as I managed to keep up with a few guys who broke off the front and kept up a very fast pace about 2 miles. Seriously, I was grinning from ear to ear. I did fade a bit coming into our middle point rest stop.

  • We stopped and I started to slam down some energy jellies and grabbed an expresso. We rested for about 30 mins.

  • We restart the ride and even though we took a bit of a break, it just felt like I had nothing left on the hills. It didn’t feel like I bonked but just didn’t feel like I keep up the pace needed.

  • I’m thinking maybe I pushed too hard over those few miles and it didn’t leave me with much for the remainder of the ride. I’m also thinking my nutrition could have been better. I did have some carbs in my drink but maybe I needed to even out my intake.

Keep to your endurance for the first half of the ride and then up the tempo for the second half of the ride to improve adaptation.


Eat earlier and constantly. Don’t go hard at the start. Build power over the course of the ride so that you finish stronger than you started.


The simple answer is ride more.

As you get stronger you will find last half does get easier.

Calf muscles just need to adapt. I have been riding for 4 years now and there is a sizeable change to the size of my calf muscles…and this is from age 56 to now 60. They are definitely a lot stronger now.

I notice a huge difference in my ability to ride just based on keeping myself fed and by regularly drinking. Tweaking your nutrition may make a difference. I am sure you will notice a difference in the latter half of your ride just from better nutrition.


Salts and electrolytes at the stop, I find I often get cramp in the latter half of faster group rides, I do sweat a lot judging by either my caps (in autumn/winter) or my helmet straps both ending up covered in white salt.

My engine feels great still but as soon as I start pushing my calfs or hamstrings start screaming at me. I’ve now got some electrolyte tablets that I’ll neck at the coffee stop. This is on top of the normal eat something hourly plus liquid. I’ve mentioned before but I use the lap timer on my bolt and reset every time I eat so I don’t forget, something I found I did if I’m with the fast boys sitting on the rivet trying not to die.

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LSD solo rides. Constant pressure on the pedals.

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How long do you consider long? My last Sweet Spot ride was a 2 hour version of one of the TR workouts. I think it had 4 blocks of 20 mins in the sweet spot.

LSD to me would be 6+ hours in Z2

I recently posted about this same subject and the best advice I received which helped me to complete 2 centuries in one week (one was done in 4hr52min including two stops) was related to nutrition before and especially during the ride. I have also ridden close to 200 miles this week. Previous to the last few months , I have done mostly 25-30 miles max, always a TR workout and had suffered the same thing as you when I tried a long group ride of 78 miles 8000 feet. Didn’t bonk, but was slower after 60 miles or so.

Anyhow, based on that advice, I am 148 pounds and before a long hard ride, I drink tons of water all day for 48 hours before, I eat a carb heavy dinner night before, and 150 gr carbs an hour before I ride (oatmeal with 4 table spoons pure maple syrup, two small boxes of raisins, a banana, and a huge scoop of peanut butter). During the ride, I consume 1 and a half regular size 500ml bottles of water per hour. Each bottle is filled with 1 cup of 100% OJ (30gr carbs and other goodies, 2 scoops of plain maltodextrin (28gr carbs per scoop) and one 750mg sodium electrolyte tab. On a hot day, I add 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (more than that is disgusting). I also carry a gel flask with gu and eat a little at start of every hour. I am a heavy sweater so I also carry an emergency supply of those white salty pumpkin seeds in case of cramping. The only real solid food I carry is some salty nuts, which I don’t usually need but sometimes my stomach wants some real food.

Anyhow, doing that, I have felt pretty good, especially if I am smart about where/when/how I put in effort.

Also, I find it important to spend time building the Z2 engine. If one only does HIT intervals and threshold work, one will find it very difficult to do long 4-6 hour Z2 rides. I’ve seen very strong riders that smash me on climbs drop from a long 75-100 mile Z2 ride.

My 2 cents, all of it a repeat of advice I have received.

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Do you have any references, or theory as to why?

And why do this instead of just endurance or sweetspot?

The day was pretty cool, in the 40’s. I have had issues with my calves cramping on hot days before but I didn’t really sweat much this ride since it was cool.

I do carry a sports drink with electrolytes.

A timer to remind you to drink / eat is a good idea!

The newer Garmin head units - Edge 520 sort of age and later - can accept “apps”. There’s one that will act as a timer and beep at you with a message. I’ve got it set up for 15mins for drinks and 20mins for food. Don’t know about Wahoo units.

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To be honest, one of the reasons I’m on trainer road and using structured training is because I have limited time to train. 6+ hour training rides are going to be few and far in between…

I use my phone with a quadlock mount. I can easily set a repeating timer. I’ll get a proper head unit next season.

Guess I only have one match and I lit it too early during the ride. Lol. Thats a good idea for pacing. Sometime it’s hard not to get caught up.

That’s a good pacing strategy. But sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up when you’re having fun.

So have fun and get dropped. If you keep it in your pants for the first 2/3 of the ride and drop the hammer in the last third you’ll put people in the hurt locker. Dropping people is more fun than being dropped.

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Very True.

Start incorporating “Tired 20”s into your training sessions. Take the last 20min of your training ride and try to put out the best power you can. It’ll train you to work at the end of a ride and when you’re fatigued.

I’ve just started Base phase and I’m already doing this, albeit at much lower power, just to get both mind & body ready for the heavy late efforts during race season. During a 3hr 60-70% sesh I’ll do the last 20min @ 80%.

Maybe both. Most of the work should be done by the glutes > quads; if your calves are overworking there’s an imbalance somewhere.


Or cleats too far fwd. Move them all the way back if not already…